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What Is A Subheading and Why Are They Important?

Subheadings are extremely important, yet underutilized in formatting and SEO tools. Learn why you should optimize your subheadings and the best way to go about it.

A subheading is a mini-headline or text that is found under the main headline to give further insight or support for the headline. Headlines are used to entertain, add shock, or hook readers to make them want to know more, but the subheading guides the reader to keep reading or scanning the information.

A subhead is also designed to keep their attention. It can talk about the benefits someone will gain from the product or service. It can also further explain the headline. Most of all, a subheading will encourage readers to act.

A good subheading shows personality and creates curiosity. They should be useful and unique. Short subheads are best. The very first one should be the most engaging. Subheads should be used throughout the content to keep it scannable and readable. Subheads should keep things moving in a parallel structure. The length should also be similar. The best practice for effectiveness is to keep them at 70 characters or less within the content. Additionally, the subhead should keep things moving forward.

As a rule of thumb, when using subheadings, use just enough persuasion to keep them interested while telling them just enough. Subheads directly under the headline should be 10 to 30 words at the max. Most subheads are twice the length of the main headline.

What is a subheading?

When it comes to website building, subheadings help build the structure of a page. They help the content come together for clarity. Not only are they visually important but helps with navigation. On content pages, headings and subheadings are key.

Why are subheadings important?

A subheading improves the reading experience to enhance your search engine rankings. Subheadings contain keywords that directly affect your SEO. Headings carry more weight than normal text, but most people don’t know that.

While every subheading doesn’t need to have a keyword, there should be at least one or two. This helps the search engines filter through to find text associated with your topic. Here are some important factors:

  • Know when to use subheadings
  • Pay attention to the heading’s levels. They differ in the hierarchy of information.
  • Use them to separate topics.
  • Keep them simple.

There are some common mistakes writers make when writing subheads:

  • Not giving enough thought to crafting the section. It’s important to consider what the section is about, the most important part of the section, and what the reader should be gaining from reading the section. This helps in creating a subheading that delivers value to the reader, such as how to do something, or what they will learn. They should know what to expect from the rest of the section.
  • Not being clear and focusing too much on being creative. Being creative is good, but if it will confuse the reader, it’s a no-go. Make sure the reader has a good explanation of what you are saying. Your goal is to deliver solutions, not confusion.
  • Being inconsistent with structure. You want to have a consistent pattern in your content. The main headline and subheads are one, two, three, and four.
  • Straying from the topic. The subhead should always connect back to the main heading, This keeps the consistency and does not confuse the reader. Every subheading should delve deeper into the content while remaining attached to the headline.

The big three: headline, subheading, and CTA

While each of these elements holds its own weight, they all work best when presented together. Subheads make the headlines stronger, and a CTA brings everything together. Here’s a good formula:

  • Headline – Make them look twice
  • Subhead – Pull them in to seek more information
  • Call-to-Action – Tell them what to do next.

The headline is what readers see first on a webpage, blog, article, etc. It should make a powerful enough statement that the reader is intrigued. They should be excited or something that really grabs attention.

The subhead draws the reader in further, giving them something to think about. They should want to read more. This is through explaining, discussing the benefits the reader will get or how their life will improve, or encouraging action in some way. The subhead should directly feed off the headline.

The call-to-action brings it all home. The header starts things off, the subhead keeps them reading, and the CTA is the logical ending. You don’t want to leave the readers hanging, wondering what they should be doing next – tell them.

How to write the best subheadings

Writing the best subheads takes practice. Here are a few tips:

Focus on the organization

How you organize the content is key. It should be logical enough to help the reader understand. The phrases should have keywords and have natural links, not stuffed. It should flow and make sense as it builds and the readers continue through the content. This may not always make sense, but there is another structure that may be useful. Summarize the big takeaways before they start reading, and then highlight certain phrases, ideas, or stats throughout the content.

Separate the content

Once you organize and lay everything out, your headings and subheadings are important. Make sure the headings are specific and descriptive. The subheadings should be distinguishable and describe all the information that follows. This should be a seamless experience for the reader that will keep them there. The goal is to have them read more of your content, act, purchase or donate.

Make the headings and subheadings clear

Most website users will not read every word on your page. Many will scroll through the subheadings to see which sections are relevant to them, their needs, or the question they are trying to answer. This is important to keep in mind when writing, because even if you have the information they are searching for in the body, if they can’t find it in a quick scan they might leave your site for another. So, distinguish the heading from the subheading for the reader. That means the size of the content, in some cases, the color, the font, effects, or a combination of these. Depending on specific style guides, each one will be different.

The shorter, the better

No one wants to read a long winded subheading. Readers like content that is straight to the point. Keep this in mind when you are writing and cut any unneeded filler words. With that said, longer subheadings are fine in some instances, especially if you are squeezing in a longtail keyword. It's important to keep the length of your headings consistent throughout the content. Avoid having a mix of short and long headings as they will stand out and potentially distract readers.

Use graphics

Similar to subheadings, graphics are something that many users look for when reading a blog or scrolling through a company's website. Depending on the type of content it is, graphics can further enhance the value you give to your readers. Imagery through graphics, grids, graphs, or pictures can make a huge difference in further explaining the content.

Keep your brand voice consistent

Establish your brand voice early on in your business strategy as it’s a critical part of cultivating brand awareness and brand loyalty. Once you find the right tone for your brand, it’s important to remain consistent across all channels, social platforms, and throughout your content—including in your subheadings. For example, if you strive for a tone that is more professional, you don’t want to catch your audience off guard by including more casual wording in your subheaders.

Don’t underestimate the power of good subheadings

You want to have an idea of good copywriting subheadings that sell. What makes a subheading sell? To get big results from your text, you should look at the subhead as a roadmap. The job is to get the reader wanting to skim the content and keep the reader engaged and focused on what you wrote. Using an all-in-one platform like Mailchimp can help put things together in the right way while marketing your business.

A strong subhead is an ad of sorts for the very next section. That means you’re highlighting the benefits they are getting from acquiring knowledge. They will intrigue and inform the readers, and they will push them to a result because they used the information they got from your content. Think of a subhead as a story that your reader wants to read multiple times and possibly share.

Let the facts of your subhead speak and make it personal. When crafting strong headlines and subheads, put yourself in the reader’s shoes. Think about the features of what you’re writing about and what you would want to know, or what you would want people to think.

It’s so important to have subheadings that make it count. Teams should prioritize wireframing their websites with headings and subheadings following a hierarchy and the benefits of what they stand to gain. The personality of the brand should shine through without being too creative. Short and to the point can also provide creativity when done the right way.

Don’t neglect the power of SEO and how it helps your content in the search engines. Be thoughtful in the writing so the subheading can have a strong CTA. Remember, each subheading’s content should tie directly back to the headline.

Separate your content to create a seamless flow from start to finish. Make the subheading clear on what the section will be about. Your readers should not have to worry. On websites, subheadings work very well with an image, headline, and subheading. This helps reinforce the message of what they should be expecting.

Using the right platform can help. Mailchimp helps create better content with their content studio and AI-powered solutions. Their testing tools and insight can help act the right way that makes a difference. For more, check out Mailchimp today.

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